Thursday, 15 February 2018

Gardening session today

No photos as I forgot to take any. We worked on the fruit bed at the Triangle, pulling up couch grass that was threatening to strangle the currant bushes. It became clear rather quickly that we have neglected this bed, having done very little for a year. Some raspberry canes encroached on the space currently with currants, so they had to be removed. We found stinging nettles, good for wildlife but a menace in a space where people are encouraged to enter and pick fruit, so they had to be removed. We produced a large amount of organic garden waste and we could see what had been cleared, but we will need at least two more morning sessions to finish what we started.
A robin spent some time watching our activities with interest before flying off to find more food.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Gardening workday coming up

Thursday 15th Feb 2018, time for our first gardening session of the year in the Triangle, opposite Mayow Park cafe. New volunteers are welcome. Dress for the weather.
We will be reducing the height of the fruiting hedgerow, pruning raspberry canes, weeding and mulching the fruit bushes. As it is half term week, children can help with some of the tasks as well as look for minibeasts in the mulch and in the log pile.

Lovely day for orchard work

It was really cold and the ground in the orchard was frozen when we arrived but the sun slowly worked its magic and ice turned to mud.
We had 8 adults and 4 children at our workday, some adults already experienced in orchard pruning and some learning skills for the first time. The children got stuck in to remove grass encroaching into the tree pits and then to mulch the areas they had cleared. In 1.5 hours we managed to check tree health, prune apple trees trees, adjust tree guards, remove weeds and add mulch. We had a fun session.
Volunteers setting up at the start of the morning
three children collecting wood chips for mulching

Friday, 9 February 2018

Join in our Orchard winter workday 12th Feb 2018

Half term is coming up and our orchard winter workday will be next Monday.
We will be checking all the trees for pests and diseases as well as some winter pruning of apple and pear trees. We will also be reducing the height of some of the tree guards, removing encroaching grass round the tree pits and mulching.
No prior knowledge of gardening or pruning is needed as we will show you what to do.Introductions and training will be from 10.30 a.m. If you can only stay a short while, it is best to arrive at the start.
Children who join us must be supervised. Wear suitable footwear as the ground can get quite muddy.
If you have any questions, our email address is
NOTE: yes, our email address is ymail, not gmail.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Celebrating Trees on 2nd December

A year ago, in December 2016, Friends of Mayow Park held our first Tree Dressing Day in the community orchard, an opportunity to celebrate how the orchard has developed with the help of so many volunteers. We had such fun then and the committee wanted to hold the event again this year. We were anxious about the weather but after a light drizzle the rain held off for the rest of the morning.
A team of volunteers gathered at the orchard to put up our gazebo, unfurl our banner, check we had enough fabrics, paper, pens, pencils and crayons, wool, ribbons and string plus apple juice, tea, coffee and hot water. Our story teller, Rich Sylvester, arrived and set up his area under the protective branches of a lime tree.
Rich prepares for story telling

By 10am we were ready to welcome visitors.
Visitors welcomed to our gazebo

But why hold this event? Tree Dressing is based on many old customs from all over the world, celebrated at different times of the year.
Tree Dressing Day in England falls on the first weekend of December every year. It was initiated by the charity Common Ground in 1990 and has grown to become a chance for the whole community to gather and celebrate the leafy friends we all have in common. It is also a chance for communities to reflect on the social and cultural history of their local area, and the role that trees have played in shaping that story. 
Trees have provided our sustenance, food, shelter, medicine and the air we breathe. They are part of our history and also our future. Trees have long been celebrated for their spiritual significance. It can be as simple as tying strips of cloth or yarn to a tree. The practice in Japan is to decorate trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes or poetry. 
Borrowing from these many traditions, our Tree Dressing included paper leaves for people to write messages or draw pictures to give to the trees, tie coloured strips of fabric (with or without messages) or make objects to hang in the trees.

Dream catcher

Our story teller captured the imagination of young and old with his stories and showed how to make dream catchers to add to the decorative creativity that was transforming our orchard.

creative decorations

More creative decorations

We finished off the morning with rousing winter songs led by our two wonderful singers Lucy and Valerie, and some mulled wine with thanks to Valerie and Robert.
There are so many thank yous: thank you to all those who visited our event, the lovely children and families who joined in the story telling. Thank you to our story teller Rich. Thank you to all the volunteers who contributed so much of their time. 
Celebrating Tree Dressing in our community orchard was a wonderful way to show our appreciation  of trees in our locality and to share tree stories with everyone who joined us.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Come to Our Tree Dressing Day on 2nd December 2017

We are planning to have another Tree Dressing  Day, similar to the one we held in December 2016.
Here are the details.

For more information on Tree Dressing Day and the work of Common Ground who initiated this in 1990 to become a national event see

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Great Fun on Apple Day (in Mayow Park)

After all the planning and preparing, Apple Day arrived today. It may be mid-October but we had a warm, mild day with temperature in the low 20s, ideal for an outdoor event.
Volunteers arrived in plenty of time to put up the gazebo, set the tables and prepare the apple varieties for tasting. Our story teller, Rich Sylvester, arrived and chose a wonderful lime tree within our orchard area where he set up his story telling den.
The tennis courts beside our orchard were busy too, with parents bringing children for tennis coaching. This was great for us as  parents found out about our event and all could join in either before or after their tennis session.
The orchard sign had been installed on 11th October, in time for the great unveiling today. It has illustrations provided by some pupils from St Michael's Primary School, a local school.  One of the local Perry Vale Ward councillors, Cllr Alan Till,   offered to unveil the sign and he invited a couple of children to help him. One of these two  children saw his illustration in the sign and looked really happy; he had been one of eight children who contributed orchard-related pictures.

Our story teller gathered adults and children and recalled some apple names. He gave out pairs of wooden rhythm sticks so that people could chant and clap out the rhythms - Lane's Prince Albert . . . Cox's Orange Pippin . . . Winter Banana . . . with these wonderful rhythmic beats and chants everyone followed Rich to the story den. Try it yourself - it sounds rather soothing.
story telling
 Meanwhile, back at the gazebo, many people came to learn and wonder at unusual apple names that they had never heard of. They had the chance to do a taste test and decide which variety they preferred.
The apples we brought were cut into small pieces so that as many people as possible could taste them. Some varieties had been purchased from Brogdale, on the edge of  Faversham in Kent. As it happens, Brogdale is  holding a national Apple Festival this weekend! get along there if you can.
If you don't know of Brogdale they grow over 2000 varieties of apple as well as other fruit. Their fruit is not grown commercially but groups like friends of Mayow Park and other organisations can order small numbers of heritage fruit for events such as our Apple Day. We ordered four varieties from Brogdale and more varieties were harvested from local gardens or bought from our local greengrocer.It was a joy to see so many children who LOVE eating apples and who wanted to taste as many apples as they could. Could it happen that they may grow up wanting to grow their own fruit? will they be our future Mayow Park orchard carers? It seemed that Zonga, a fairly new variety grown in Kent and bought from our local greengrocer, was the most popular.

For those who wanted to learn more names of apples there was an Apple Variety Treasure Hunt. In and around the orchard appeared large cut-out cardboard apples with unusual names written on them. The task was to find all 15 cardboard apples and note their names on a sheet. To encourage a slower pace participants were asked to also add any item found in nature next to the apple variety named on the cardboard. Everyone who returned their sheet was a winner!

Well done to all the volunteers who put in time and effort. Verbal feedback from visitors was very positive.